It’s May and Healthy Vision Month all May long!
At Cornea Associates, we understand that successfully reading an eye chart is only a small part of overall eye health. A healthy eye is more than just clear acuity and having annual exams with your eye care provider is the first step in making sure that your eyes are healthy.
The first step to comprehensive eye care is a dilated eye exam. This is typically done every 1-2 years for the average patient, with younger patients requiring them less frequently. Because the pupil (the “black dot” at the center of the iris, or colored part of the eye) regulates how much light enters the eye, the view of the inside of the eye is limited during a traditional slit-lamp exam. The light source on the slit-lamp causes a reflexive constriction of the pupil to limit the amount of light passing through it to the very light-sensitive retina (the back of the eye). By dilating the pupil (instilling medical eye drops to keep the pupil wide open despite light exposure), your eye care provider is able to view the maximum allowable space inside and at the back of your eye. This way they can thoroughly examine your retina, macula, optic nerve, and crystalline lens. These exams are vital to detecting vision-threatening conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts.
It is also important to be compliant with your ocular medications. With chronic eye conditions, such as those mentioned previously, it is imperative that the patient maintain their eye health by using their medications as directed. Eye drops are used in a clinical setting to treat or prevent infection, elevated intraocular pressures, inflammation, edema (swelling), and ocular surface dryness, among other things. Some eye conditions or complications can have lasting or irreversible effects, so it is extremely important that the patient follow their care regimen and uses medications as directed. For more information on eye drops, how to tell yours apart, and how to instill them, see our previous post here.
While medication can be considered a means of “protecting” the health of your eye, it is also vital to physically protect the eye. Most eye surgeries, such as cataract extractions or corneal transplants, require a pressure patch be in place immediately following the procedure and a shield or guard at night for a couple-to-several weeks post operatively. It may seem like common sense to protect the eye from impact or injury after it’s been operated on, but it is just as important to protect your eyes in everyday situations. Sun protection can help prevent or delay the onset of conditions such as cataracts, pter ygia, and melanoma. Be sure that your sunglasses protect against UV-A and UV-B rays. Safety eyewear may also be strongly encouraged, if not actively required, at work and at play. Certain professions where the patient is at increased risk of damage or injury (e.g. construction, welding, chemical exposure) require eye protection for OSHA, or even federal, compliance. Certain sporting activities, as well, increase the patient’s risk for ocular damage or injury (e.g. racquetball, basketball, any sort of firearm) and eye protection is highly recommended where it isn’t mandatory. Defer to ANSI standards to be sure your eyewear is appropriate.
At Cornea Associates, we specialize in Anterior Segment care, that is, treating diseases and disorders of the foremost part of the eye. What we do here is only a fraction of your total eye care, so regular exams with your eye care professional are just as crucial to your overall health as visits to your physician and dentist. If you truly want to keep your eyes as healthy as the rest of you, be sure to follow up with your eye care provider at least once a year and take control of your ocular health!